I’m a runner, and much like in construction, intentional planning is necessary to keep me fit, healthy, and safe. In my years of running, I’ve encountered dangerous animals (including an opossum on the Wilson Bridge crossing the Potomac River), unpredictable drivers, shady characters, speedy cyclists, and unforeseen incidents. During a run on a deeply wooded section of trail last year, I even put my First Aid training to use on the scene of a serious bicycle accident.
Our well-known priorities for managing risk in construction—engineering controls, administrative controls, and PPE, in that order—apply to my running routine.
- Choosing an indoor treadmill run during inclement weather, especially if there is lightning.
- Planning routes on sidewalks and trails rather than on the shoulder of roads.
- Sending my husband a text message with my route before I leave, and another upon my return.
- When crossing roads with cars present, I make eye contact with drivers and wave to ensure they see me.
- Stretching before my run and walking at least a quarter mile to warm down.
- Brightly-colored clothing and for runs in the dark, a reflective vest and blinking lights.
- Water for hydration if embarking on a route longer than five miles.
- Sunscreen, a hat or visor, and sunglasses.
- Pepper spray and phone.
Perhaps I have been lucky over the years to have stayed safe and injury-free as a runner, but I am also intentional about my health and safety. If something as simple as going for a jog involves careful planning, the complex and risky activities of a construction project warrant much more intense scrutiny.
Even though we may have performed an activity hundreds of times, every single task in construction requires planning for known hazards and contingency planning for unexpected circumstances.